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Dear Bathroom Reader: A Letter To Myself During a Crohn's Flare

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Dear Bathroom Reader,

It’s midnight and you’re stuck on the toilet. You can feel the spasming in your legs starting and it sucks all the life out of you. Your husband is in the other room. He’s sitting on your bed. You’re waiting. You’re crying and you want to clean your face before he sees. It was a good day. Tears can’t spoil the good day you’ve shared together.

But now, it’s a rough night.

You don’t really know where exactly the line of doing “too much” was, but it’s come and gone. Your legs feel like they’ve been shoved into metal vices and your stomach is sour. You’re scared to ask for help, and you’re ashamed.

This isn’t the end of the road for you.

You’re going to throw up, and it’s going to hurt. It might be hours of sitting here on the toilet before you can go anywhere and that’s going to hurt. Eventually you’ll stand up, red, busied on the backside and sore. You’ll make your way back to the bedroom, where you get to slump into cold sheets next to your husband, who will rub your back half-awake if you ask him to. You won’t ask him to, but the thought is nice. You’ll curl up with the heating pad and pray for the medicines to kick in so you can get some sleep. They will.

I know you’re so tired. You go to sleep tired. You wake up tired. You’re more tired now that you’ve ever been before. Bubbling over. Fatigue so bad it hurts. It honestly hurts.

Listen, you’re going to get through this.

We don’t know how long this flare is going to last this time; it could be weeks or months. It could last a year. And we’re going to need to mourn a little. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to fall apart, to be angry. It’s OK. We don’t know how long this flare is going to be, but trust me it will end.

It will end and you’ll look back and wonder how you made it but you’ll make it.

You don’t have to do this alone. Don’t shut people out. Listen. I know it’s hard, but listen. The people around you are just as scared as you are. They love you and they want what’s best for you. So listen. Ask for help. Ask for too much, and don’t be ashamed of taking up space. You have a right to exist. You’re not a burden for being sick. You are worthy and deserving of love. You are worthy of the effort it takes to keep yourself healthy.

But it still hurts right now, and that’s OK.

I writing this letter to you, Bathroom Reader, because I want you to know that everything you’re feeling is valid, despite what anyone else says about it. Your pain is real. Your medical care is important. You have a right, actually, you have a responsibility to yourself to put yourself first in medical situations. Your pain is real, and it’s not “just Crohn’s disease.” No amount of rushing ER doctors, moody healthcare professionals, or people who just don’t understand can minimize the struggles you face every day.

Hold on to those who support you always, and remember that they believe you. They believe you. They see you struggle in ways the doctors don’t and they have seen you fall apart. You’re learning new ways of coping and management all the time. They trust you, so trust yourself.

It’s going to be OK.

The You That’s Still Hopeful for Better Days

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Thinkstock Image By: Manuel-F-O

Originally published: March 30, 2017
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